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Seoul: No talks if North behind ship blast

SEOUL, April 20 (UPI) -- South Korea might not resume nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea if Pyongyang is found to be responsible for the sinking of a South Korean navy vessel.

South Korea is investigating the sinking of a gunboat that went down last month near the North Korean sea border after a blast rocked the ship, which carried a crew of 104.

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"If North Korea is found to have been involved, I believe it'd be difficult to reopen the six-party talks," Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan as saying. "It would be hard to create an atmosphere to discuss long-term prospects for its denuclearization because the North will have to be held accountable for its behavior."

Thirty-eight people are known to have died and eight sailors are unaccounted for.

There was speculation the ship was either hit by a Korean War-era mine or a torpedo fired from a North Korean vessel.

Investigators are examining the aft section of the wreck, which was recovered from the seabed last week.

North and South Korea have repeatedly clashed over the disputed sea zone where the incident happened. Since the start of this year, both nations, in what they said were military drills, fired artillery into the sea near the maritime border.

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When South Korea and the United States launched joined military drills this month, North Korea announced it would boost its maritime defenses.

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